Category Archives: Parks Passport Posts

New Stamps for October

The calendar has rolled over to October, and the folks at Eastern National have made their monthly announcement of new Passport Cancellations.   This month there are four new stamps, all for the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership.  The Parternship  covers the region surrounding Lake Champlain in New York and Vermont, and is one of the current total of 49 National Heritage Areas.

The four new stamps for the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership are:

These four stamps join the existing stamp for the Gordon-Center House, which serves as the heritage area’s headquarters in the town of Grand Isle, Vermont.

These four new locations are not particularly surprising additions to the Passport Program for this Heritage Area, considering that thus far they only had a stamp for their headquarters.  These new stamps will take Passport collectors out into some of the sites in the heritage area.   The Lake Champlain Visitors Center is the regional tourist information center in Ticonderoga, NY at the southern end of Lake Champlain, and was perhaps the most-obvious Passport location candidate.

Meanwhile, the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge is located at the northern end of Lake Champlain, on the border between Vermont and Canada.  It is one of the only Federally-managed facilities in the Heritage Area, and so was also logical choice for a Passport cancellation.

The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is located a bit north of Ticonderoga on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain.   It is the sort of regional history museum that is always a prime candidate for a Passport cancellation in a National Heritage Area, as these are the sorts of partners that National Heritage Areas are almost seemingly designed to promote.

Perhaps the most-surprising choice of the four is the Art Museum located at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Plattsburgh – which is on the northern end of Lake Champlain on the New York side.   However, the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area in Iowa includes a Passport Cancellation at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, where you can view the world-famous painting, American Gothic.  Meanwhile, the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, just to the south of the Champlain Valley in New York State has several stamps at art museums, including one at the art museum on the campus of SUNY New Paltz (and another that was formerly located on the campus of SUNY Purchase.)  So locating a National Heritage Area Passport cancellation at an art museum is not unprecedented.   However, I’ll be interested in learning more over the coming months as to why this particular location was selected.

Finally, its worth noting that surprising by its omission is Fort Ticonderoga.   Fort Ticonderoga was the site of a significant Revolutionary War engagement in the Saratoga Campaign, so it arguably is of sufficient significance to merit outright national park status.   However, it is currently privately owned and operated, so its possible that the necessary partnership agreements have not yet been worked out.

With the addition of these four stamps to the Passport program, there are now, by my count, 1,935 available Passport cancellations.

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New Passport Stamps for September 2014

In addition to trying to visit all the U.S. National Parks, I’m also a big fan of the Passport to Your National Parks program.   In fact, I am not entirely sure which idea came to my first – trying to visit all the U.S. National Parks or trying to collect all the cancellations in the Passport Program.  The two goals, at least back when I started, really seemed to go hand-in-hand… by trying to collect all the passport cancellations, I would naturally visit all the national parks in the process, and vice-versa.

The Passport Program is sponsored by Eastern National, Inc. – which is the non-profit cooperating association that operates the bookstores for many of the national park sites in the eastern United States.   Since many of the national parks in the eastern U.S. lack the publicity of a Yellowstone or a Grand Canyon, the passport program was initially conceived as a way to promote visitation to all of the national parks, both large and small, both famous and off-the-beaten-path.

Each month, Eastern National releases the list of new Passport Cancellations.   This month there are four of them:

    • Cape Lookout National Seashore | Beaufort, NC
    • Independence NHP | Franklin Court Printing Office
    • Erie Canalway National Heritage Area | H.  Lee White Marine Museum
    • Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom | New Castle Court House Museum

By my count that brings the total number of passport cancellations in the program to approximately 1,929 active major cancellations.   Obviously, with only 401 national parks, that works out to many more than one cancellation per national park!   That’s in part because larger parks may have multiple cancellations for different locations throughout the park, and other parks may have special cancellations available for a specific anniversary celebration, such as the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War.

For example, this new cancellation brings Independence National Historical Park up to 8 available active cancellations.  7 of them are in downtown Philadelphia:

    • Philadelphia, PA (at the main visitor center)
    • Liberty Bell
    • Franklin Court (where a museum stands on the location of Ben Franklin’s former house)
    • Benjamin Franklin Museum
    • Franklin Court Printing Office (where the National Park Service has restored Ben Franklin’s print shop for working demonstrations)
    • Declaration House (where Thomas Jefferson did most of the writing for the Declaration of Independence)
    • Old City Hall (which was used by the U.S. Supreme Court from 1791-1800 while the U.S. Capitol was in Philadelphia

The eighth is for the Germantown White House, which is a house in what was in the 18th century then-suburban Germantown.  President Washington stayed there to escape a yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia during Philadelphia’s time is the national capital.

While Independence National Historical Park includes dozens of other buildings in downtown Philadelphia, perhaps the most-notable thing about this list of passport cancellations is that there are now three stamps for Benjamin Franklin, as well as a stamp for the Liberty Bell, but no specific stamp for visiting Independence Hall – the iconic centerpiece of the park itself.   Go figure!

The new stamp for Cape Lookout National Seashore is not surprising as they just opened a new visitor information center in the Beaufort, NC Town Hall, which was the former site of the post office there. This cancellation gives Cape Lookout four active cancellations:

    • Beaufort, NC – as mentioned above
    • Harker’s Island, NC – the park headquarters, main visitor center, and primary ferry departure point to Cape Lookout itself are all here
    • Light Station Visitor Center – this is the main visitor center on Cape Lookout itself, it is only accessible by ferry
    • Portsmouth Village – it actually takes two ferries to reach this remote location, a place that is legendary for the epic number of mosquitoes on the island!

The other thing which boosts the total number of cancellations is that the National Park Service does much more than simply manage the U.S. National Park System.   In particular, it operates a number of partnership programs, including National Heritage Areas, which opens the Passport Program to other sites that aren’t themselves national parks..

The new location for the Erie Canalway National Heritage Area gives that program 27 total cancellations.   Of those, four are located at national parks located within the Erie Canalway National Heritage Area.  The other 23, like the H. Lee White Marine Museum, in Oswego, NY are other historic sites that are not Federally-run, but participate in the Passport Program through the National Heritage Area partnership program with the National Park Service.

Finally, the Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom is yet another partnership program.  In this case, special Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom passport stamps are given to any of the 401 national park sites that tells the story of slavery or emancipation in some way, shape, or form.  This site is going to the New Castle, Delaware Old Court House Museum, which is part of First State National Monument.  The Old Court House was the site of a famous trial of Thomas Garrett and John Hunn, who were convicted of working as stationmasters on the Underground Railroad in violation of the Fugitive Slave Act.    This cancellation brings the number of active and available Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom cancellations to 26.

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